Thomas Cook was born to John and Elizabeth Cook, who lived at 9 Quick Close in the village ofMelbourne, Derbyshire.The couple's first child, he was named after Elizabeth's father, Thomas Perkins. John Cook died when Thomas was three years old, and his mother remarried later that same year.
At the age of 10, Thomas Cook started working as an assistant to a local market gardener for a wage ofsix pence a week. At the age of 14, he secured an apprenticeship with John Pegg, and spent five years as a cabinet maker.
Thomas Cook was brought up as a strict Baptist and joined his local Temperance Society. In February 1826, he became a preacher, and toured the region as a village evangelist, distributing pamphlets, and occasionally working as a cabinet maker to earn money.After working as apart-time publisher of Baptist and Temperance pamphlets, becoming a Baptist minister in 1828.
In 1832, Thomas Cook moved to the Adam and Eve Street in Market Harborough. Influenced by the local Baptist minister Francis Beardsall, he took the temperance pledge on the New Year's Day in 1833. As a part of the temperance movement, he organized meetings and held anti-liquor processions.
On 3 March1833, Thomas Cook married Marianne Mason. John Mason Cook, their only son, was born on 13 January 1834.
The company was nationalized in 1948 as part of the British Transport Commission. In the early 1950s, the company began promoting 'foreign holidays' (particularly Italy, Spain and Switzerland) by showing information films at town halls throughout Britain. However they made a costly decisionby not going into the new form of cheap holidays which combined the transport and accommodation arrangements into a single 'package'. The company went further into decline and were only rescued by a consortium of Trust House Forte, Midland Bank and the Automobile Association who bought the company from the British Government on 26 May 1972.Subsequently, Midland Bank acquired sole control during1977. However, since US banking laws prohibited any national banks from owning travel agencies, the US operations were sold to Dun & Bradstreet in 1975.
After restructuring the company and re-entering the traveller's cheque business the company prospered again. During the 1980s, Thomas Cook had its most visible business presence in the US, including robust Travellers Cheques sales to regional USbanks. The company had enough business critical mass to set up a computer centre near Princeton, New Jersey. Robert Gaffney and Samuel Malek were two of the notable decision makers in that era. Robert Maxwell bought substantial holdings in the company in 1988. He was expected to sell his holdings quickly as he was a publisher rather than a travel agent. However, when Crimson/Heritage purchased theUS division of Thomas Cook for $1.3 billion in 1989,he still maintained a substantial interest in the company until his death.
In June 1992, following the acquisition of Midland Bank by HSBC, the company was sold to the German bank, Westdeutsche Landesbank(WestLB), and the charter airline, LTU Group for £200 million. Due to contractual difficulties LTU Group sold its 10% shares to WestLB inMay 1995. During 1996, after being bought by American Express, the company bought the short-haul operator, Sunworld, and the European city-breaks tour group, Time Off. Within three years, the company had combined Sunworld, Sunset, Inspirations, Flying Colours andCaledonian Airways into the JMC brand - JMC being short for John Mason Cook.
On February 2, 1999, the Carlson Leisure Group merged withThomas Cook into a holding company owned by West LB, Carlson Inc and Preussag Aktiengesellschaft ("Preussag").However, in mid-2000 Preussag acquired Thomas Cook's rival Thomson Travel and was forced to sell its majority 50.1% stake in Thomas Cook by regulatory authorities. In 2002, Thomas Cook was acquired by the German company C&N Touristic AG, which later changed its name toThomas Cook AG. The...
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